A lot of us struggle to find time for ourselves while pushing ourselves to work harder and longer. Finding time becomes even more difficult if you have a family to take care of. To make life a little easier, people have started to cook freezer meals so that they don’t spend a lot of time preparing meals on weekdays.
Freezer meal is a unique concept that allows you to prep up your favourite meals (even for an entire week) and then dump them in the freezer. You can later take them out, heat and toss them up a bit, add some final touches and you can enjoy a whole delicious meal right at home without spending hours in the kitchen.
In this article, you will find meals that will require the instant pot. While a lot of people have bought the instant pot, many are used to the idea of using a rice cooker. We have compared the Instant Pot against the rice cooker so that you can make your own choice.
Once you get convinced on buying the appliance, you can also find reviews on the Instant Pot to help you choose one that is worth your money.
What Are Freezer Meals?
Let’s elaborate on the concept a little more. The idea of freezer meals was invented (perhaps by a super-busy genius who loved cooking too) to plan for and even prepare a part of the intended meal well in advance and freeze it for use later. The advantage: you can save tons of preparation time for your dish spent in cutting, chopping, shredding, etc.
How to Use Instant Pot to Make Freezer Meals?
Preparing frozen meals in an instant pot is quite easy; however, you need to remember that cooking time might increase because the frozen food needs to defrost first.
Here are a few tips on how to use the instant pot for cooking anything straight out of the freezer:
- Leave it longer than the usual time – As mentioned above, frozen food generally takes slightly more time than usual to come up to pressure in an instant pot. Make sure you add a few extra minutes to your cooking time estimate, especially for frozen meat and chopped vegetables. Also, try and keep chunks short as they cook faster; besides, large cuts of meat should ideally be thawed before cooking in the pot to ensure it gets cooked.
- Add more liquid – It’s important to cover the food all the way and ensure that it’s soaked well in the liquid stock to cook to perfection. Also, never use water for cooking instant pot dump meals. Besides, water can make the food taste quite bland; instead, try chicken or vegetable stock, salsa or pasta sauce, BBQ sauce, or coconut milk.
- Always use Natural Release method – Using Quick Release option in instant pot freezer dump meals might be tempting for ease of convenience and faster cooking. However, frozen food would end up uncooked, especially at the centre and even chewy. Allowing about 10 minutes of Natural Release time upon completion of cooking time. You can always use Quick Release to release any pressure that remains after. Confused about natural and quick release? Our article on Natural Release Vs Quick Release will help you understand and differentiate those terms.
- Avoid filling it up to the brim – The more you stuff up your pot with frozen food, the difficult it’d be to cook all portions evenly. As it is, frozen food is difficult to cook at the centre, so you need to keep enough space in the pot for all the chunks to move around and cook well through the middle.
Instant Pot Freezer Meal Recipes
Here are some of the most favourite frozen meals worth trying in an instant pot.
1. Detox Lentil Soup Recipe
It’s vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free too. You need to prepare the following and then dump them all together in the freezer –
- Butternut Squash – 2 cups, chopped
- Mirepoix – 2 cups
- Potatoes – 1-2 cups, chopped
- Brown lentils – 1 cup, uncooked
- Garlic – 3 cloves, minced
- Herbes de Provence (or any other spices of your choice) – 1 tsp.
- Salt – to taste
- Vegetable or chicken broth – 4-5 cups
While adding them all frozen to the instant pot, put them on high pressure for 15 minutes and add an extra 10 minutes on natural release. Once cooked, add ¼ cup of olive oil and 1-2 cups finely chopped kale. Squeeze some lemon juice or red wine vinegar over the dish and serve hot.
2. Instant Pot Lazy Lasagna
In a mood for Lasagna on a lazy Sunday afternoon? Try this instant pot recipe that comes together super fast, so you have enough time to relish every bite than sit down to prepare it.
- Olive oil –1 tbsp.
- Butter – 1 tbsp.
- Small onion – 1 no., chopped
- Garlic – 1 tbsp., minced
- Lean ground beef – 2 lbs.
- Pasta sauce – 1 jar
- Beef broth – 2 cups
- Red wine – ¼ cup
- Water – 1 cup
- Italian seasoning – 1 tbsp.
- Lasagna noodles – 8 oz., uncooked
- Mozzarella cheese – 2 cups, shredded
- Parmesan cheese – ¼ cup
- Ricotta cheese – 1 cup
How to Make in an Instant Pot
- Turn the Sauté setting on the instant pot. Add olive oil and butter; allow them to sizzle.
- Now add onions and garlic, and cook them for about 2 minutes. Keep stirring.
- Add ground beef and cook for about 5 minutes until it’s no longer pink.
- Add pasta sauce, beef broth, wine, water, and Italian seasonings. Mix them all well.
- Add the pasta and stir well so that the noodles are covered nicely in the liquid.
- Now change the instant pot setting to Manual or Pressure Cook on high pressure for about 20 minutes. Lock the pot lid and make sure that the vent is closed.
- Once the cooking time is up, release the pressure; wait for the steam to evaporate before removing the lid completely.
- Now add cheese and serve hot.
3. Vegetarian Minestrone Soup
This is easy to make on a winter day; just throw in some pre-prepared frozen ingredients and call it dinner!
Ingredients (you can choose the quantity as per the number of servings)
- Green beans
- Baby spinach
- Kidney beans
- Cannellini beans
- Dry pasta shells
How to Make
- Chop all vegetables. You can also use some of the leftover vegetables in the fridge or if you’re pinched for time, buy pre-chopped veggies from the store.
- Set the instant pot on Sauté setting and pour some olive oil. Add onions and garlic and cook them for 2 minutes.
- Now add carrots, celery, basil, oregano, thyme, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and bay leaf.
- Add dry uncooked pasta, vegetable broth, and water, and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.
- Press Cancel and close the lid. Set the Pressure Cook option to 2 minutes.
- Once the pot beeps, press Quick Release to release the steam. Now press Cancel and turn Sauté. Now add kidney beans, cannellini beans, and zucchini, and cook them for 5 minutes. Add spinach and cook for a minute.
- Season with some more salt and pepper and add the balsamic vinegar. Serve warm with bread and garnish with parmesan cheese and parsley.
Do try these instant pot freezer meals and let us know what you think. Besides these recipes, you can also try five other healthy Instant Pot Recipes.